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Delhi’s lone female snatcher

Rinkle, a mother of three, features in the list of ‘bad characters’ at the Nangloi police station. A bad character, according to police records, is a person with multiple criminal cases whose activities must be monitored because he or she is a threat to law and order.

delhi Updated: Apr 07, 2019 13:41 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
female snatcher,Delhi snatcher,Delhi Police
Ramanjeet Kaur, alias Rinkle. With Ramneek Singh after their arrest last month.(Delhi Police)

In a man’s world of bike snatchers in Delhi, she is the odd woman out.

Dressed as a man in a pair of jeans, shirt tucked out of her waist, her face covered with a helmet, 32-year-old Ramanjeet Kaur, alias Rinkle, rides pillion on a motorcycle and snatches cell phones, jewellery, and handbags for a living.

Rinkle, a mother of three, features in the list of ‘bad characters’ at the Nangloi police station. A bad character, according to police records, is a person with multiple criminal cases whose activities must be monitored because he or she is a threat to law and order.

Last month, Rinkle was arrested for the third time in her life. She had on March 8 rode pillion and dragged a middle-aged woman, who refused to let go of the bag she had tried to snatch, for more than 100 metres on a busy west Delhi road. Rinkle is back in prison, jail number 6, the same place from where she was released a year ago.

Police officers, who have interrogated her all these years, describe her in various ways — a woman with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, a ruthless criminal, a kleptomaniac. They describe her differently; see her differently, but agree on one fact – Rinkle is getting violent by the year. This means trouble for her and the police.

In January 2018, Rinkle — who police falsely believed had quit her criminal ways — attacked a woman in west Delhi’s Kirti Nagar when the woman resisted a snatching attempt. According to the woman’s complaint, she was assaulted, dragged and left bleeding on the ground.

“Rinkle is a habitual snatcher but she wasn’t violent. Of late, she has started attacking her victims if they resist. This is scary. She takes the help of other criminals to commit the crimes,” an officer said, adding this time Rinkle’s partner-in-crime was a man named Ramneek Singh, 24. Singh has cases of assault, robbery, and possessing illegal weapons.

The beginning

Had it not been for her younger brother’s friendship with a local criminal, Rinkle, maybe, would have never had a police record. She would always be Ramanjeet Kaur, a wife, a mother, carpenter and a homemaker’s daughter. Rinkle had studied at a government school in west Delhi‘s Chander Vihar where she lived. She dropped out of Class 10. Friends and distant relatives of Chander Vihar, who have known her, say that around 2012, her brother Romi had become friends with Jagga alias Jagjeet, 35, a man with over 40 criminal cases such as murder, snatching, robbery.

One of the distant relatives, who refused to be identified, said,“Romi did drugs and committed snatching crimes with Jagga. They were friends. Jagga was a regular at Rinkle’s house. We came to know much later he had fallen in love with her. Rinkle was already married with her childhood love Tejender. Jagga was so smitten by her that to date, he has never married.”

Maybe it was Jagga’s flashy lifestyle that lured her to crime and gave her a new life. Rinkle knew how to ride. Her father, Kuldip, had even bought her a scooter. Unlike her elder sister, she loved riding and speeding. Jagga was what she needed. A smitten Jagga gave her wings. They started in late 2012. Jagga, a veteran with over 40 cases, had offered Rinkle a part of his stolen earnings.

“I hired her because she is a woman and having a woman in the gang is beneficial. There is no chance of doubt and they commit the crime easily,” his confession in police records read.

Police records show Jagga and Rinkle were neighbours in Chander Vihar and operated across the city. Their crimes — Delhi’s own Bonnie and Clyde — were reported from Vikaspuri in west Delhi to Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi; Greater Kailash in south Delhi to Connaught Place in the heart of the city.

A crime dossier, prepared by crime branch, shows they were first arrested in east Delhi’s Krishna Nagar on March 14, 2014. On a stolen bike, the two were fleeing after a snatching spree . That evening, Rinkle’s name was etched in police records for the first time.

A Chander Vihar resident, who claimed he was friends with Ramanjeet before she became Rinkle, said, “Within months of her arrest, her husband Tejender was also arrested for murder. He had murdered a man after a drunken brawl and dumped the body in Sonepat. Their three kids were like orphans. Their grandmother came to take care of them. After two months, on May 30 that year, Rinkle was out on bail. We thought she would mend her ways but it did not happen. She found other partners to help her in the crime.”

Ramneek Singh, arrested in the latest case with Rinkle, told police that he too was in love with her. With Jagga, tagged as Rinkle’s partner-in-crime, in police files, she needed a new man. The Chander Vihar resident said that around mid-2017, Rinkle found the perfect guy — a local biker, who loved performing stunts on bikes and was often spotted at India Gate C Hexagon. Ramneek was just her man.

Inspector Jai Prakash, who arrested the two, said, “Rinkle became friends with Ramneek. Initially, she asked him if he could snatch potatoes from local shops while riding. Next, she asked him to snatch apples. It graduated to iPhones, jewellery and hand bags.”

In January last year, when the two were first arrested, police had found evidence of their involvement in nine cases of robbery. Between 2017 and 2018, they may possibly have been involved in over a 100 cases.

‘WON’T DO IT AGAIN’

At 32, Rinkle has 25 known criminal cases against her — and these are only the cases in which police have found evidence and pinned her involvement. The actual number of cases could be too many. All the cases are in the trial stage.

The annual crime data shows there are over 8,000 snatching cases every year in the national Capital. With a strength of a little over 80,000 personnel for a population of 1.98 crore residents – half the force are on traffic or security duties — most cases remain unsolved in the city. Only 56% of the snatching cases were solved last year.

Using this to their advantage, Rinkle and her partners made a killing by snatching for a living. An officer who had arrested Rinkle in 2018 said that the woman had even bought a house in Nangloi for Rs 25 lakh in 2017.

A stolen iPhone that costs about ₹75,000 is sold for anywhere between ₹15,000-₹20,000 in the black market. A phone that costs around ₹20,000 is sold for about ₹5,000. There is no dearth of goldsmiths who take seconds to melt stolen gold chains and burn every bit of evidence of the crime. Rinkle told police she loved gold chains but has never worn a single piece of gold or diamond she has snatched.

Last month, they had made the mistake of throwing a stolen handbag in the bushes, instead of burning it. Police found the bag and used it as an evidence against her and Ramneek.

Last month, after her arrest, inside the operations cell of the west district, Rinkle cried. She said she would not do it again.

“Was it acting or was she indeed repenting?” None of the police officers around her could say with conviction.

An officer, who was at the office, said Rinkle defended her actions and came up with different reasons as to why she had become a criminal. She said she was obsessed with snatching hand bags. To another officer, she said she needed money to repay a debt. Next, she said the business is good — the lax laws help so she would not mind spending a few days in jail. Last year, she spent less than a month in prison.

Delhi police have written to the government to amend anti-snatching laws to ensure harsher punishment and difficult bail provisions. More than two years later, the file is gathering dust.

Police are unsure for how long Rinkle will be in prison this time. Her family refused to talk to HT. Locals said her mother is taking care of Rinkle’s kids.

This isn’t Rinkle’s first time in prison. But most of the locals and the police personnel are certain that it most definitely won’t be her last. In 2016, the then lieutenant governor had signed an externment order barring Rinkle from living within Delhi for at least two years. Not many women get this sort of punishment. In banishment, Rinkle lived in Sonepat. She returned to Delhi after two years. Nothing has changed except she became more violent and desperate.

First Published: Apr 07, 2019 03:58 IST